Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why I Hate Wal-Mart

My name is AnnaMarie and I shop at Wal-Mart. Not often - maybe once every 2 or 3 months - but the convenient location is sometimes too tempting and they have EVERYTHING, even in the middle of the night. But you know what? I hate that place. And it's not for the reasons everyone cites.I hate that every time I go there, I leave in a bad mood because the lines are long, the customers are rude, and the machines don't work. They con their customers into thinking they have low prices, but nearly everything is cheaper at Kroger. And (now this is really terrible) I have completely lost patience for the morbidly obese people in the electric carts that drive through the aisles filling their baskets with junk food. It just ticks me off.

Of course, it bothers me to no end that they are responsible for so many mom and pop stores going out of business. It bothers me that they don't offer affordable health care to their employees and that their labor practices are shameful. But I am conflicted. Is Wal-Mart worse than the Dollar General that moved to my home town and will invariable affect the business community there? And Target! I love Target and I know loads people who will shop there and not Wal-Mart. But is Target much better? I know that 100% of their political contributions support the Republican party and you know how THAT makes me feel!

So what's a girl to do? I noticed something last night when I was buying dog food and notebooks from the concrete fortress, as my husband so lovingly calls Wal-Mart. The woman who was helping me checkout was disabled, and so were 3 other employees that I saw working there just in that trip. She was happy. She was helpful. I love seeing that and I never see that at Target. Damn liberal guilt.


Strangeite said...

It is the "fluorescent fortress". And you are correct in your questioning of individuals that will shop at Target but think of Wal-Mart as the scourge of the earth. Wal-Mart pays their workers much better (in fact they pay the most in the industry), gives more to charity (by an order of magnitude) and is FAR more environmentally conscience than Target. Wal-Mart is the world's largest user of environmentally responsible passive solar lighting. When Wal-Mart decided to offer an organic cotton yoga suit, they instantly became the world's largest purchaser of organic cotton.

Think about that folks. By selling one item, and that one item being a yoga suit, not a high volume item, they became the world's largest consumer of organic cotton. That is a powerful statement as to the influence that the fluorescent fortress holds.

Nevermind the fact that when Wal-Mart rolls into town, economists state that it is the equivalent of getting an extra $1,200 a year for the people in the lowest economic tier.

Do I like Wal-Mart? Hell no. I could go on an on about the evils that the corporation commits but as I have said over and over, a corporation exists for one purpose only, and that is to make money. They have NO moral obligations, they can't, it is abhorent to the very nature of a corporation. It is up to the populace to dictate what activities are permissiable and which are not. And by getting on a high horse and ignoring the reality (or worse snubbing) the common person, that is exactly what drove people to the Republican party in the first place. Rahm Emanuel hit the nail on the head when he stated that if Democrats want to start winning elections they need to start watching "King of the Hill".

Jen said...

Did you ever notice that shopping at Target is QUIET? (No background music). This is not the case at Wal-mart. I hate it too........and I don't believe the former commentor about paying good wages.....bullshit.

Jen CD

AnnaMarie said...

It's a tough issue and it's not as black and white as we like to think. The practices of the vast majority of big-box stores are, on the whole, deplorable and the marketing departments for the organizations are luring in a very specific market. I'm Target's market, not Wal Mart's, and their campaigns work on me. No doubt, Wal-Mart's noise and everything else drive me crazy, but do we pick on Wal-Mart because they're the worst, or because it's the biggest?

Strangeite said...

I never said that Wal-Mart pays good wages, they just pay the best in the industry (which isn't saying much).

A study done by Anthony Lampe compares Wal-Mart to Target. Here is a quote:

"Wal-Mart pays more to their associates on average than Target stores do. The average starting rate for Wal-Mart associates is greater than $7.30, even higher with previous experience (and a 30 cent raise after a positive 90 day evaluation), and Target stores will pay as little as minimum wage for an unexperenieced applicant. The average Wal-Mart associate makes $10 an hour, whereas the average Target associate makes around $8 or so."

Is this a living wage? No. Does Wal-Mart provide more income for their workers than Target? Yes.

Anna is right that it isn't a black and white issue. The point that I was trying to make, and I believe Anna was trying to make too, is that us "liberals" need to make sure they we are making our buying choices based upon reality and not some Madison Avenue marketing firms ad campaign.

Strangeite said...

I was wrong one point. Wal-Mart pays second best in the industry. Costco beats Wal-Mart, but we don't have any Costco stores in Kentucky.

Anonymous said...

I work for a city government in Ill. and we fought Wal-Mart tooth and nail. When a Wal-Mart goes into a city 1 in 3 jobs is lost and it lowers middle class income. You should look at this site
In my city the employees of Target are primarily high school/collage age kids, Wal-Mart seems to be (I hate saying this) women of a lower income & education. Usually single moms trying to make ends meet, not pay off their car while mom and dad are still helping them out.

If you chew on that and think about the impact wages have on the person and family working for said wages I think there are some interesting factors that never make it into our “studies”.

I like your blog…very thoughtful and thought provoking!

AnnaMarie said...

Thank you, anonymous. I appreciate your comment. I think what frustrates me most is that I don't know what my other options are. What locally-owned store can I use that will allow me to buy the more mundane items in my life, such as white undershirts and socks? It's a serious dilemma.

Anonymous said...

You know’re thinking about it. Thinking leads to action. Most people don’t know or don’t care. They are happy to live an ignorant existence and effecting change is not something they even consider. I completely understand your dilemma and the bigger these companies get the harder it us on us. As tax payers we loose when these companies don’t insure their employees, we loose when our small towns have to engage in costly legal battles with them. And what happens….we are stuck shopping at their stores and the mom and pop shops are disappearing before our eyes…and why would people shop the small stores when they have to charge more because they can’t purchase in the same bulk amounts as the box stores. It’s so sad.

I have to admit to shopping the big stores too, but I try to at least shop the few small places still left and I make a point to shop at farmers markets and joined my local CSA. I hope something is better than nothing. But I do worry that one day those will be gone too.

AnnaMarie said...

Anonymous, I am a big Farmer's Market supporter but I am not familiar with the CSA. Can you enlighten me? I have also gone on a crusade to rid my life of plastic bags. It's tough but 1,000 to decompose is just too long.

You're comments are welcome, but your anonymity intrigues me. Do you have a blog?

Anonymous said...

CSA is Community Supported Agriculture. You basically purchase your produce from a local farmer (many CSA farms are organic) and they sell shares and have X amount available each season. I get a box of fresh vegetables and herbs for the week. It’s a great way to support a local farm AND your produce is fresher and keeps much longer…usually the grocery store produce is already a week old by the time it hits the shelves. Check out this link, I think you will be able to find one in your area.

I keep thinking of starting a food blog (that is mostly what I read) but have not yet done it. I found your blog while looking for knitting (something I want to learn how to do).

Good for you on the plastic bags! I hate to say this, but the only time I take my canvas bag is when I go to Trader Joes…when I go to the “unmentionable box stores” I feel self conscious and like they are judging the weirdo with the canvas bag. I know that is incredibly stupid. I should just toughen up!


AnnaMarie said...

You should learn to knit - it's a wonderful hobby. If you start a cooking blog, make sure and send me your link. you can find my email address in the 'about me' section of my profile.


Anonymous said...

Buying the "cheapest" isnt cheap at all. It turns out to be very expensive. Costing us our jobs, cutting our average wage and driving our small neighborhood businesses out. Pay a reasonable fair price and support American enterprises and values.

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